According to the MLB Playoff Projections at 538, the Mets have a better shot than the Cardinals at making the playoffs. As of September 6, the site gives the Mets a 63% chance of making it to the Wild Card game, compared to just 58% for the Cardinals.
Those odds almost assuredly come from the strength of the two teams’ schedules. Over the final month of play, the Cardinals have three games against the Giants, three games against the Rockies, and they close out the regular season with four games against the Pirates. Most significantly, they have six games against the mighty Cubs.
The Mets have one of the easiest remaining schedules of not just any playoff contender, but any team in baseball. Only three of the Mets’ remaining games are against a team over .500, the Nationals. Outside of Daniel Murphy and friends, the Mets get to finish their current three-game series against the Reds, and will play the Marlins and Twins for one series each and the Braves and the Phillies for two series each.
The Mets caught a break with Billy Hamilton’s injury before their series against the Reds, as his skills on the bases could have posed a serious threat. Daniel Murphy stole a base against the Mets on Friday, so the league leader in steals might have led to a record-breaking performance. If they can keep Joey Votto and Adam Duvall in check, they should take at least one of the remaining games in the series.
Going forward, the Marlins and Phillies look finished and should prove excellent cannon fodder when it comes to padding the wins column. The Twins and Braves, though, shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Twins are one of the best baserunning teams in the American League, and since the All-Star break, their second baseman, Brian Dozier, seems possessed by the spirit of Babe Ruth, as he’s hit 24 home runs in 50 games. At the very least, the Mets take on the Twins at Citi Field, which takes the designated hitter out of the equation.
The Braves have won seven of their last ten games. Freddie Freeman is having a career year, Ender Inciarte is getting hot, and more than anyone else, they have the desire to spoil things for the Mets. Never count out a second-division team with a grudge, especially when they have the tools to crush dreams.
538’s predictions surely keep all of this in mind, but projections are fickle. The Mets’ chances of making the playoffs were down to 6.7% on August 19, so we know all too well how the odds can be defied. (To be fair, those odds come from Fangraphs, who now give the Mets just a 52% chance of making the playoffs, so they’re far more pessimistic than 538.) These projections are good news as the team and its fans gear up for a potential postseason run, but there’s a reason for that expression about counting chickens before they hatch. Or perhaps, in this case, Cardinals.